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U-15 Girls' National Team Training Journal from Palo Alto, Calif.

CoachesNet caught up with U.S. Under-15 Girls National Team head coach Mike Dickey during a recent training camp in Palo Alto, Calif. For this CoachesNet Insider edition Coach Dickey shows us his training journal the team used for the week long camp.

U.S. U-15 Girls' National Team Training Camp
Palo Alto, Calif.
April 11-19, 2009

Coaching Staff
Michael Dickey (Head Coach)
Jorge Cruz (Assistant Coach)
Janine Sparza (Assistant Coach, Goalkeeping Coach)

Camp Facts
  • 24 players invited into camp - All players were born in 1994 except for one who was born in 1995.
  • The purpose of the camp was to develop players in preparation for the U-17 FIFA Women's World Cup in 2010. The 1993 born player pool, now in the identification stage, will be added later.
  • The team was based in Foster City, Calif. and trained at Stanford University.
  • Competition included two top level U-18 girl’s club teams, two Division 1 Women’s University teams and one semi-pro Women’s team (Sacramento Storm).
  • The goals for the week were: focus on technical corrections and repetitions; working collectively in small groups to create chances to score and defend; improve speed of play in transition from defense to offense; improve decision making against high level opponents; and discover the abilities of players in new positions on the field with a different system of play.
Day 1 - Arrived into Northern California
  • Dynamic warm-up without a ball (coordination and flexibility).
  • 8v8 (six minute games) - Players determined their own formation for each game they played and altered it for each new game.
  • The session ended with technical finishing.
  • Coaching staff and players met in the evening at the team hotel.
Day 2 - Morning Training
  • Dynamic warm-up without a ball (coordination and flexibility).
  • Worked on passing technique in groups of two and three.
  • Goalkeepers worked on footwork and ball handling.
  • Defenders worked on individual defending technique.
  • The team then worked on small group to large group defending (3v2 to two goals and then progressed to 6v4 to two goals).
  • Progressed to 5v5 + one with two goalkeepers and two full-sized goals.
  • The emphasis was on crossing and finishing in the attack and how to defend crosses and runs into the box.
  • The restriction placed on the players was two touch in the central part of field and unlimited touch outside of it.
  • The session ended with technical finishing.
Day 2 - Afternoon Training
  • The warm-up focused on technical passing in groups of two and three.
  • 11v11 - Controlled intra-squad scrimmage.
  • The coaching staff worked on team organization and defending and attacking concepts.
Day 3 - Morning Training
  • The warm-up focused on technical passing in groups of three.
  • The coaching staff broke up the team into groups to work on the following:
  • Attacking players - worked on finishing.
  • Midfielders – played combination play of 2v2 + four with a limit of one touch for the players on the outside.
  • 4v4 to two targets
  • 5v5 to four goals
  • Goalkeepers and defenders worked on playing out of the back while under pressure.
  • The session ended with a 6v6 head tennis game that focused on technique.
Day 3 - Afternoon Training
  • The warm-up focused on technical passing in groups of three.
  • Goalkeepers worked on crossing and footwork.
  • The team played 3v1 possession with a restriction of one touch.
  • Played 5v5 + one using two grids that worked on transition possession.
  • The session ended with a 7v8 game to big goals. Two counters goals were added. The group was split up between offense vs. defensive.
Day 4 – Morning Training
  • The team rested in the morning and worked on their class work.
Day 4 – Afternoon Match
Played a match versus a U-18 girl’s club team. It was a 90 minute match, played with limited substitutions.

Day 5 - Off Day
  • The team took the day off to travel into San Francisco.
  • In the evening the team met to discuss and review the performance of the previous day’s game.
Day 6 - Morning Training
  • The warm-up focused on technical passing and running off the ball.
  • The team played 3v1 possession with a restriction of one touch.
  • 10v10 incremental possession game.
  • 10v10 + three with a limit of two touches.
  • Goalkeepers worked on parrying and boxing.
  • Final third exercise 10v7 to goal. Restriction added was that goals could only be scored on a one touch finish.
Day 6 - Afternoon Training
  • Played a match versus a U-18 girl’s club team. It was a 90 minute match, played with no re-entry for the national team.
Day 7 - Morning Training
  • The warm-up focused on combination play in groups of two and three’s.
  • 4v4v4 (combination play with one group of four only allowed to play one touch with the team in possession of the ball).
  • Goalkeepers worked on distribution with hands and feet.
  • The session ended with finishing.
Day 7 - Afternoon Small Group meetings
  • Coaching staff provided feedback to all players on how they performed in the previous two games, things to work on during the upcoming tournament games and when they return home to their club teams.
  • Players were given four questions to answer during the meetings so that coaches and players would have a quality discussion. The questions revolved around technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of the game.
Day 8 - Tournament Day
  • Played three 50 minute games at Stanford University.
  • Team attended the MLS game in Oakland (San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy).

Day 9 - Departure
  • Departures in the morning for players and staff
CoachesNet Insider: How did you and your coaching staff prepare for this training camp?

Mike Dickey: “The staff and I spoke about all the players that were invited in and the experiences they have had or not had in a U.S. National Team camp. Sixteen of the players had been in at least one national team camp and ten of the sixteen players had been in with the U-17 national team pool in 2009.  We set goals to help the individuals and the team throughout the week keeping in mind that this was a completely new challenge for players competing in their first National team camp.”

CNI: What goals or objectives did you have for the team going into camp?

MD: “We went in with the mindset to prepare the players to play an attacking style of soccer that would involve many of the attacking personalities and abilities of the players in camp. We stressed the importance of technical excellence with repetition of shooting, passing and receiving. We trained in small game situations with goalkeepers and full-sized goals so the players could work on speed-of-play and decision making while under pressure. We challenged the team with new system of plays and terminology and we played against older and more experienced opponents which will ultimately prepare them for the next U-17 World Cup.”

CNI: Did your goals change at all once you were in camp?

MD: “The goals did not change but we found that some of the players were able to play at a higher level when we moved them to different positions.”

CNI: Why did you choose to play U-18 and college teams during this camp.

MD: “We played against older teams in order to gain more information on our players and where they currently are at in following areas: physical strength/speed/agility/balance, psychological determination, technical accuracy/variety; and tactical ideas and implementation. Against the two U-18 teams we were able to play all 24 players in two 90 minute games. They played quite well in all areas except for team decision making around their own goal. This is to be expected in a camp where many of the players are playing new positions and playing together for the first time. They were very good at the end of the week when they played against two Division 1 college teams and one semi-pro women’s team. Our players came together defensively and possessed the ball while moving over the entire field. Numerous chances and goals were created and the goalkeepers played very well against older and more confident players.”

CNI: Was there anything in particular you worked on over and over during camp?

MD: “We worked on passing and receiving in every training session. This was an area that we felt was not good enough and they improved as the week went along. We also worked on scoring and goalkeeping at every practice. They really enjoyed this a great deal.  Other areas we touched on were team and individual defending, turning with the ball, combination play and playing out of the back starting with the goalkeeper. Ultimately it is our hope that this camp in coordination with the work they do at ODP camps and with their club teams will help them with their goal of qualifying for the World Cup, making the World Cup Team and eventually winning a World Championship for the US. ”

Stay tune for future CoachesNet Insider postings on what the U.S. National Teams are working on.

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